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Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. LANDRIEU. I send this amendment to the desk for its consideration, but my intention is to speak for about 10 or 15 minutes and then I am going to ask to withdraw the amendment because, unfortunately, even though this is an extremely meritorious concept, I am not certain we have the votes for it at this time, but I thought I should take some time to talk about it.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Louisiana [Ms. LANDRIEU] for herself, Mr. Breaux, Mrs. LINCOLN, and Mr. Pryor, proposes an amendment numbered 2615 to amendment No. 2885.

Ms. LANDRIEU. I ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To establish a program to apportion funds to States for use in the acceleration and completion of coordinated planning, design, and construction of internationally significant highway projects)

On page 39, between lines 22 and 23, insert the following:

(17) FINISH PROGRAM.-For the FINISH program under section 178 of that title, for each of fiscal years 2004 through 2009, an amount equal to 6.4 percent of the amounts received in the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) for the fiscal year under section 9503(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
On page 389, between lines 15 and 16, insert the following:


(a) IN GENERAL.-Subtitle I of chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code (as amended by section 1815(a)), is amended by adding at the end the following:

"§ 178. FINISH program

"(a) IN GENERAL.-The Secretary shall establish and carry out a program, to be known as the 'FINISH program', under which the Secretary shall apportion funds to States for use in the acceleration and completion of coordinated planning, design, and construction of internationally significant highway projects, as determined by the Secretary.

"(b) ELIGIBLE PROJECTS.-The Secretary shall apportion funds under this section for highway projects described in subsection
(a) that are located on any of the high priority corridors described in paragraphs (1) and (37), (18) and (20), (23), (26), (38), or (44) of section 1105(c) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (105 Stat. 2032), as determined by the applicable State and approved by the Secretary.

"© APPORTIONMENT.-For each of fiscal years 2004 through 2009, the Secretary shall apportion funds made available under this section for the fiscal year to each State in the proportion that, as determined by the applicable State and approved by the Secretary-

"(1) the estimated amount that may be obligated in the fiscal year for the completion of the eligible projects described in subsection (b) in the State; bears to

"(2) the total estimated amount that may be obligated in the fiscal year for the completion of eligible projects described in subsection (b) in all States.

"(d) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.-For each of fiscal years 2004 through 2009, there is authorized to be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) to carry out this section an amount equal to 6.4 percent of the amounts received in the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) for the fiscal year under section 9503(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.".

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.-The analysis for subchapter I of chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code (as amended by section 1815(b)), is amended by adding at the end the following:

"178. FINISH program.".

Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I offer this amendment on behalf of myself and Senator Breaux, Senator Pryor, and Senator Lincoln from Arkansas-the two Senators from Arkansas and Louisiana. There are other Senators who are very interested and have given us a lot of encouragement as we moved forward with this concept.

I first want to thank the leaders of this bill for their tremendous work in putting a very balanced transportation bill together. You can see how controversial and emotional some of this debate is regarding highways and jobs. Highways, if not built correctly or built in the right way, or if rail or mass transit isn't provided, if the trade burden is too heavy on one area, can cost jobs, as you just heard the Senator from Pennsylvania speak.

This is a very complicated and very big bill and a very expensive bill, but one we certainly have to find a way to afford because it is the infrastructure on which our economy in large measure is built. It is not the only infrastructure. I would like to remind everyone that schools and education are just as important, but our highways, our rail, and our Interstate System particularly are the foundation for jobs and economic growth.

The concept of the amendment I talk about-again, I am going to withdraw it-is to pull a few percentage points of dollars away from the general program and direct it to the completion of major interstate routes that are in desperate need in order to handle the new international trade and the increased truck traffic and the increased moveable inventories that are in large measure traveling by truck on our highways because of policies we have as a Congress put into place over the last couple of years.

We have an Interstate System to be proud of. We have made mistakes over the decades as we have constructed it. Obviously we have not been as sensitive to the environment when we began this several decades ago as we are today. But it has been a remarkable achievement of the American people, to dedicate their tax revenues and their gasoline tax revenues and general tax revenues. It is a true partnership between the Federal Government and local governments, as we built this Interstate System, primarily built by the Federal Government.

As you can see, these are the major corridors throughout our country. In the early days of the country, as trade was more east-west, as we traded more with Europe and with the Pacific rim, our highways have had to move across the country and of course the whole Nation has been on a westward expansion. It started on the east coast and then moved westward.

The problem now is States such as Louisiana and Texas and in large measure Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri-the heartland States, these States right here in the middle of the country-are under a tremendous burden as the population has increased. I realize two-thirds of our population lives within 50 miles of a coast. I am from a coastal State so I understand the populations are very heavy. But the populations are also very heavy right here in the heartland and there simply are not enough interstates moving north-south.

That is what this amendment attempts to do, to say to those writing these policies-and all of us have an input in that-let us pay attention to finishing some of these interstate corridors. From Louisiana, the corridors that are most important to us are I-49 and I-69. I will talk about that in just a minute.

Again, the map shows the concentration of interstates is east of the Mississippi River, not west. The Western States, particularly those in the center, need to have additional interstates that are completed. I-49 would affect Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and others; I-69 which is not completed, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan; I-35, which is not completed, Iowa and Minnesota; the CANAMEX interstate, which is not yet completed, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho; and ports to plains, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Although I did mention Pennsylvania, I want to put up another map. I know the chairman has worked very hard. I am sure he and the staff know these numbers, but 46.6 percent of the truckborne traffic that comes from Canada comes through this entrance right here, and 49 percent that comes from Mexico or through Mexico comes through this point.

The I-69 corridor, which is not finished, is a very important corridor to be completed because other corridors that do exist-there are probably one or two others in this section-are not enough to handle the percentage of the traffic.

The Senators from Pennsylvania, Senator Specter and Senator Santorum, with New York and Pennsylvania right here, are feeling the sting of a lot of those trucks coming through, not stopping, not delivering goods, not delivering jobs, but creating a lot of traffic, havoc, a lot of potholes, and accidents are coming through these corridors because of the way our economic system is developing.

Do we want to stop the economic growth? Absolutely not. But we have to provide for it. That is basically what our amendment attempted to do.

I wish to speak for a few more minutes about it, but I am hoping as we draw some attention to this corridor and the percentages of trade that come through on a north-south direction we can get more help and more support.

I think the committee has done a beautiful job. I have worked with the chairmen on both sides. Louisiana has been treated fairly. This is not a complaint from the State of Louisiana. I like the idea that our State, along with many others, is getting a bit more money under the new formula.

I think it sounds very fair when you say every State should get at least 95 percent of what they put in. But the problem with that is it sort of takes away a bit from our concept of interstates and completing interstates. Whether it helps Louisiana or not, ultimately, when these corridors are completed, it helps every State. In this case, two of the corridors I am speaking about would cut through Louisiana, and would be a great help to us, and also to the whole Nation and our metropolitan areas.

That is the underlying concept of the amendment. Again, to generally describe it, it would take a small percentage-6 percent-which equates to about a $16 billion commitment over the next 6 years to finishing anywhere from four to five of the major corridors through the middle part of the country. This is only one. There would be others that would fall into this concept and this amendment.

Let me keep the I-69 chart up for 1 minute and talk about one of five that will be completed in the middle part of the country.

I-69 will serve the Nation's top 25 seaports, 13 inland waterway ports, and 15 of the Nation's top air cargo ports. One of the reasons we need to finish I-69 is because it helps to link our seaports, our waterways, and our airports. That is true for every one of these corridors that would be proposed in this plan.

When I-49 is complete-hopefully one day soon-it will extend from New Orleans to Kansas City, but it benefits the whole Midwest part of the country, from the great port of New Orleans, the port of Houston, the port of Mobile, with huge amounts of trade and traffic which are goods imported and exported moving through these ports. They need north-south corridors. We simply don't have enough north-south corridors. We have a lot of east-west corridors but not north-south corridors.

Once completed, the I-49, I-29, and I-35 corridors will intersect with nine other east-west interstates, including I-94, I-190, I-80, I-70, I-44, I-40, I-30, I-20, and I-10. Building the north-south corridors connects them to the east-west to make this grid workable and helps all of us to be more efficient and profitable as we move goods and services around and through this great Nation.

There is one final point I want to show a picture of. This is a hard picture for me to look at, but the ranking Member from Vermont, Senator Jeffords, has actually seen this with his own eyes. He was gracious enough to come down to Louisiana. We were literally standing there looking at a bridge, which is not in this picture frame. The Senator asked me what would happen to the bridge if there was an accident. At that point, a large shrimp trawler literally hit the bridge, knocking the mast of the trawler off and knocking the nets down. The bridge was out of commission for several hours. The Senator witnessed that himself. There is only one way in and one way out.

But the frightening thing for people who are observing and listening to this today is this is the main highway for offshore oil and gas revenues coming into the continental United States. This is LA-1. Eighteen percent of the imports and a majority of the offshore oil and gas drilling that is done happens at the end of this road. With a heavy rain, it goes under water. This road needs to be elevated and protected. The marshlands need to be restored. All of that can be done with the right kind of investment.

This is probably one of the worst examples of not using our Federal resources directly and well, in the sense that $6 billion is produced from the Treasury off the shores of this highway, but we can't get one penny to broaden or fix this highway-that is not true. We have, through the generosity of the chairman, gotten some money to fix and designate this highway. But this is one of the corridors that could be greatly improved by a commitment to finish the major economic corridors we rely on for our security and which give us energy security-but also in the middle part of the country to help us move oil and gas off our shores to light up Chicago, New York, or places in Pennsylvania and Vermont, and move goods through the Gulf of Mexico. This is a major corridor.

My amendment seeks to re-focus only a small percentage-6.4 percent-of our Federal highway spending on finishing our network.

My proposal calls for creating a finish program. The finish program would provide enough funds to finish or substantially finish a few highways of international significance.

In 1995, we dissolved the interstate program and left behind a few major uncompleted segments. From its founding by President Eisenhower until its dissolution in 1995, the Federal interstate program provided a dedicated stream of funds to build our system of interstate highways.

This map of completed interstate's shows the concentration of interstates east of the Mississippi River and the great gaps
in the network that exists west of the Mississippi River, particularly north-south interstates.

ISTEA and TEA-21 provided a new program that listed a number of high priority corridors that are vital to national economic development, but did not provide the funding to construct these highways.

The proposed finish program would provide the necessary funding to finish or substantially finish the most significant of these Congressionally designated high priority corridors so that we can begin closing the remaining gaps in our national network.

All of the proposed roads for the FINISH program have already been Congressionally designated high priority corridors, yet we haven't given them priority funding. Many segments of these roads do not exist. Some of these roads exist but are inadequate and are awaiting improvements. All of these proposed road projects link our borders north and south. All of these proposed road projects will bring tremendous social and economic benefits for both their regions and for the Nation.

Of the six corridors that I propose be included in the FINISH program, I want to focus on three specific corridors that I know best because they directly impact Louisiana. These three specific corridors are: I-69, I-49 and LA-1.

When completed, this will span the Nation's heartland, connecting Canada and Mexico through the States of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

Since the passage of NAFTA, Canada and Mexico are now the U.S.'s major trading partners. In 2001, 80 percent of U.S. trade with Mexico and 67 percent of U.S. trade with Canada was transported by truck. The I-69 corridor accounts for over 63 percent of the Nation's truck-borne trade with Canada and Mexico. This map of the I-69 corridor shows that the Michigan border points of Detroit and Port Huron account for over 46 percent of the Nation's truck-borne trade with Canada. The Texas border between Laredo and the Lower Rio Grande Valley accounts for over 49 percent of the Nation's truck-borne trade with Mexico.

I-69 will serve the Nation's top 25 seaports, 13 inland waterway ports and 15 of the Nation's top air cargo airports. This corridor would directly serve 25 million people. I-69 will provide economic development in some of the Nation's most impoverished regions, including the Mississippi Delta and the lower Rio Grande Valley.

In the I-69 corridor States, there are over 9.1 million people living below the poverty level. In 6 of the 9 corridor States, the population in poverty exceeds the U.S. average. Currently, only two sections of this corridor-Interstate 69 from Port Huron, MI to Indianapolis and Interstate 94 from Port Huron to Detroit and west to Chicago-are complete and open to traffic. However, these sections are in need of upgrading. The remainder of I-69, from Indianapolis south to the Mexican border, is in varying stages of completion. Location and environmental studies are near completion and many sections are under design work and construction.

When completed, I-49 will extend from New Orleans to Kansas City. When completed, it will provide a continuous trade highway from Canada through the Midwest and New Orleans to Latin America.

Major portions of the route are already constructed: In Louisiana, from Lafayette to Shreveport as well as other sections in Arkansas and Missouri. Environmental work has been completed for every unconstructed section of the roadway. Records of decision for every one of these sections have been signed by the Federal Highway Administration. Project funding is the only remaining obstacle to the completion of the Interstate.

I-49 is a nationally significant freight distribution and inter-modal corridor that will service the deepwater ports of South Louisiana, New Orleans, Houston, Beaumont-four of the top five ports in the Nation by tonnage-the Great Lakes ports of Duluth, Superior, Chicago, Gary and Milwaukee, as well as numerous other inland waterway ports throughout the Midwest and plains States.

The I-49 corridor bisects a 420-mile north-south gap in what is potentially one of the most agriculturally and industrially productive regions of our country between I-55 to the east and I-35 to the west. Once complete, the I-49/I-29/I-35 corridor will intersect with nine other east-west interstate highways including: I-94, I-190, I-80, I-70, I-44, I-40, I-30, I-20 and I-10.

With existing rail facilities along the corridor including BNSF, KCS-now NAFTA Rail-and Union Pacific, completion of I-49 will spur the creation and expansion of major inter-modal facilities from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Once complete, I-49 will provide $817 million in annual savings to the Nation's economy by reducing travel time, transportation costs and congestion. Over 6 years, these savings will total over $4.9 billion. Coincidentally, the total remaining cost to construct I-49 is estimated at about $4.9 billion. Construction and completion of I-49 will support the creation of up to 206,290 new jobs.

I thank the chairman from Oklahoma and the ranking member from Vermont. Of course, the Senator from Nevada had a great deal to do with this bill. I thank them for their balanced approach. But I suggest to them if we could accelerate the completion of some of our major interstates in the middle part of this country, it would help everyone. It is desperately needed from an economic, security, and safety standpoint for the 30 or 40 States that are tremendously affected by the lack of this kind of infrastructure.


Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I withdraw my amendment.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The amendment is withdrawn.

The amendment (No. 2615), to amendment numbered 2285, was withdrawn.

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